AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala to Confer Top Honors Written 3 February 2020


CONTACT: Michele McDonald

Black-Tie Event Honors Aerospace’s Best and Brightest

2019 AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala

February 3, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has announced the 2020 recipients of its most prestigious awards. Presentation of these premier awards and recognition of the Institute’s newly elected Fellows and Honorary Fellows will take place on 20 May 2020 at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

The AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala is an annual black-tie event recognizing the most influential and inspiring individuals in aerospace, whose outstanding contributions merit the highest accolades.

“The winners of the premier awards presented at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala are the innovators of our industry,” said AIAA President John Langford. “They challenge what has come before to help us see what’s possible in the future. They have led by example, mentored those around them, and inspired us all. Congratulations to the winners!”

The winners are:

AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award – Robert D. Cabana, NASA Kennedy Space Center

AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award – Alan C. Brown, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired)

Daniel Guggenheim Medal – Sheila E. Widnall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

AIAA Distinguished Service Award – L. Jane Hansen, HRP Systems

AIAA International Cooperation Award – Jaiwon Shin, NASA Headquarters (retired), and Joachim Szodruch, Hamburg Aviation; IFAR, for the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR)

AIAA Public Service Award – Steve T. Knight, former U.S. Congressman (R-CA 25th District, 2015–2018)

AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award – Patrick Neumann, Neumann Space

AIAA Engineer of the Year – Andrew Klesh, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

AIAA Educator Achievement Award 

  • Elizabeth L. Bero, Horizon Elementary School, Madison, Alabama
  • Beth Leavitt, Wade Hampton High School, Greenville, South Carolina
  • Scott McComb, Raisbeck Aviation High School, Seattle, Washington

Award citations:

AIAA Goddard Astronautics Award
The highest honor AIAA bestows for notable achievement in the field of astronautics. It was endowed by Mrs. Goddard in the 1940s as the ARS Goddard Memorial Award to commemorate her husband, Robert H. Goddard—rocket visionary, pioneer, bold experimentalist, and superb engineer whose early liquid rocket engine launches set the stage for the development of astronautics.
Robert D. Cabana, Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center, won “for significant leadership and reinvention of the Kennedy Space Center into the world’s preeminent multiuser spaceport supporting government and commercial access to space.”

AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award
The highest honor AIAA bestows for notable achievement in the field of aeronautics. The award is named after Dr. Sylvanus A. Reed, the aeronautical engineer, designer, and founding member of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences in 1932. Reed was the first to develop a propeller system composed of metal rather than wood. His aluminum alloy propeller gave Jimmy Doolittle's plane the speed it needed to win the 1925 Schneider Cup race and brought the inventor much credit and many rewards.
Alan C. Brown, Director, Engineering, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired), won “for his engineering leadership of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Team that designed and produced the F-117, the first stealth fighter/bomber aircraft.”

Daniel Guggenheim Medal
The Daniel Guggenheim Medal was established in 1929 for the purpose of honoring persons who make notable achievements in the advancement of aeronautics.
Sheila E. Widnall, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, won “in recognition of her outstanding contributions to aerodynamics through research, such as the identification of the Widnall Instability, as well as through education and public service, including serving as Secretary of the U.S. Air Force.”

AIAA Distinguished Service Award
AIAA recognizes an individual member who has provided distinguished service to the Institute over a period of years.
L. Jane Hansen, President, HRP Systems, won “for over 30 years of passion for, and dedication to, the innovative development and implementation of educationally impactful programs for AIAA.”

AIAA International Cooperation Award
The award recognizes individual/s who have made significant contributions to the initiation, organization, implementation, and/or management of activities with significant U.S. involvement and that includes extensive international cooperative activities in space, aeronautics, or both.
Jaiwon Shin Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research, NASA Headquarters (retired), and Joachim Szodruch, Chairman Executive Board, Hamburg Aviation; Founder, IFAR, for the International Forum for Aviation Research, wonfor outstanding contributions to international aeronautics research cooperation through establishment and leadership of the International Forum for Aviation Research.”

AIAA Public Service Award
The highest recognition AIAA bestows on a person outside the aerospace community who has shown consistent and visible support for national aviation and space goals.
Steve T. Knight, former U.S. Congressman (R-CA 25th District, 2015–2018), won “for sustained national leadership and unmatched support as a champion of the aerospace industry and its workforce.”

AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award
The award is presented for a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics. This award honors Lawrence B. Sperry, pioneer aviator and inventor, who died in 1923 in a forced landing while attempting a flight across the English Channel.
Patrick Neumann, Chief Scientist, Neumann Space, won “for continued development of miniature electric spacecraft propulsion systems and ceaseless advocacy for the development of Australian space capabilities.”

AIAA Engineer of the Year
This award is presented to a member of the Institute who has made a recent individual, technical contribution in the application of scientific and mathematical principles leading to a significant technical accomplishment.
Andrew Klesh, MarCO Chief Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, won “for exceptional engineering and technical leadership achievements in the development of MarCO, the first interplanetary CubeSat pathfinder, enabling future NASA deep space small satellites.”

About AIAA 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 
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Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551